We're more than halfway through the massive Disney Channel Original Movie marathon showing every single DCOM, culminating with the 100th one — Adventures in Babysitting — on June 24. But fans are noticing a discrepancy in the lineup.
The 1997 film Northern Lights, which is widely considered to be the first Disney Channel Original Movie, is not on the list. Some fans, however, peg the DCOM Under Wraps, about a mummy brought back to life, as the first-ever DCOM. Either way, Under Wraps is certainly more well-known than Northern Lights, which starred Diane Keaton.
When MTV News asked readers to rank all aired DCOMs in March, Northern Lights came in dead last, with a whopping 7.7k down votes. I doubt that many people saw and hated the movie. Instead, it's way more likely they'd just never heard of it, much less seen it. (Confession: I haven't even seen it.)
According to a 1997 article from The Boca Raton News, Keaton had wondered at the time why the film was being premiered on Disney Channel, since her character was a big chain-smoker. "I also think it's a little sophisticated," Keaton said. "I'm surprised we got away with it, actually, because it's just ... out there."
The film's absence from the mega marathon has people wondering what the deal is. Even the Wikipedia article for "List of Disney Channel original films" was updated to removed the movie from the page, despite it being labeled a piece of "original" programming in several write-ups around the time of its airing. I can personally confirm Northern Lights was included on that list as recently as March 2016, though I'm not sure when it was changed.
Since the supposedly first DCOM isn't part of the 100-film marathon, what took its place? The network included Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure, a High School Musical spin-off, in its lineup instead. Disney confirmed this movie is a true DCOM, despite being originally released direct-to-DVD, then airing on the network about a month later.
It's unclear why the switcheroo happened — the Wikipedia page didn't initially include Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure — but we'll still enjoy watching Ashley Tisdale take NYC by storm and hang out with Austin Butler.
Still, no confirmation about why Northern Lights allegedly got the boot from the canon. It looks like this mystery is being kept Under Wraps -- for now.
Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure airs on Disney Channel June 20 at 2 a.m. as part of the DCOM marathon.